Today’s blog is a guest blog written by Hazel Bridges. Ms. Bridges is the creator of Aging Wellness, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.
When you’re gearing up to start a new business, you’re likely evaluating all of your operational functions and marketing needs as well as considering budgetary matters. If you’re also interested in building sustainable practices, it’s much easier to do it pre-launch than after you’re up and running. Here’s how to make better-informed choices when it comes to living and working in a more sustainable fashion.
Is an Eco-Business for You?
There are two different approaches to business and sustainability. There are companies that employ green processes, regardless of the type of product or service they provide. For example, a restaurant that buys local meat and produce, uses recyclable to-go containers, and generates energy by harnessing solar power is utilizing green operational principles. Then there are businesses whose objective is entirely green-focused. An example might be a company that recycles old computer parts or refurbishes discarded furniture using natural products rather than chemicals. In short, you can run any type of business in a sustainable way, or create a business that’s focused on sustainability practices, products, or services.
Basic Business Start-Up
Before launching your company, there are a number of things on your pre-business start-up checklist to attend to. You’ll want to begin by writing a business plan to detail all of the fundamentals of your business, from describing your products and services, your sourcing, your management team, and your strategy to your budgeting, operations, and logistics related to location, hiring, and training. This is the place to lay out all elements of how the business will function. You should also form an LLC or limited liability company. This will give you greater flexibility, reduce paperwork, and protect you against some types of liability. You can do the legwork yourself, hire an attorney, or better yet, use a formation service like ZenBusiness. States have different regulations around LLC formation, so learn yours in advance.
There are a variety of different ways that businesses operate that could have an impact on our global ecological systems. For example, manufacturing and waste production, recycling capability, packaging, distribution and transport, travel, and energy conservation. As such, go through your business plan line-by-line and look at ways to make each practice or approach more sustainable. For example, can you do business locally with vendors close by rather than outsourcing across the country and incurring cross-country shipping? Is your packaging as eco-friendly as possible, or can it be reduced or eliminated and replaced with something recyclable? How about an energy audit? Being able to utilize energy-efficient machinery can help reduce energy consumption. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has a checklist for how to go about regular energy audits, and also provides a number of other useful tips.
Evaluating Potential Impact
Businesses that shy away from green operations typically do so because they fear the costs of sustainable operations will be too exorbitant. While it’s true that there are some types of green operations that have the potential to be pricier than standard or traditional operations, there’s also an upside. According to Small Business Marketing Tools, when you implement these measures, you’ll be seen as a good corporate steward by being environmentally conscious and operating sustainably. These efforts will eventually pay dividends down the road in terms of things like reduced energy and manufacturing costs. You may also be able to capitalize on your contributions in your marketing and public outreach efforts. Many individuals and companies prefer doing business – and working for – environmentally conscious service providers, so by all means, promote the good work you’re doing.
Marketing Green Practices
The marketing and promotion materials you put in place for your green business should not only focus on your products, services, expertise, and pricing, it should also convey a little bit of information about your corporate philosophy and corporate culture. If you have a commitment to sustainable operations and employees are on board as well, it should be featured on your website, your social media posts, and on all printed and digital marketing materials. Your goal should be to let consumers know that you are committed to creating a healthier, more sustainable living environment for all. Not only can this attract even more customers, when you’re looking at funding needs for expansion or ramping up your green efforts, you may be eligible for sustainability grants or green lending opportunities.
Building on Your Green Platform
“Going green” is not something you just do once – it’s an ongoing evolution. Every day there are new breakthroughs in technology signaling greener solutions for how we live, learn, work, and do business. Stay abreast of changes and look for ways to grow and evolve in your sustainability efforts. Keep in mind, taking your green company to the next level will require professionals educated on best practices in the industry. Many institutes of higher education are also advancing sustainability issues and providing related degree programs. Consider collaborating with a university and supporting their efforts, hosting interns and externships, and drawing from the school to develop your workforce. This can be a powerful way to ensure you are continually front-and-center of where the action is in terms of the advancement of green technology and sustainable business models.
While it may take a bit of time and effort to delve into the most sustainable practices in your industry and train your employees on the same, it’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor. If you’ve ever been concerned about starting up in the current environment, keep in mind that tides are continually changing, but a commitment to sustainability is on the rise. In other words, stop thinking about your business building and just do it.